Steelbacks aiming for Twenty20 glory
Record-breaking batsman Mark Napier will look to press his England claims on Monday night when he seeks to continue his sensational form against Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
The Essex big-hitter shot to prominence with 152 off only 58 balls with a world record 16 sixes in the recent Twenty20 Cup success over Sussex at Chelmsford.
And he repeated that kind of form with 61 from 34 deliveries - including six more sixes - in Saturday Friends Provident Trophy semi-final success over Yorkshire at the same venue.
Now Napier prepares to take on the Steelbacks in the Twenty20 quarter-final at Chelsmford in a match being shown live on TV knowing another big effort could push him closer to an England call-up.
Napier said: "Cricket is a hard game to play for your life and as a career. All county cricketers are always having to think about a career after they have stopped playing.
"Six weeks ago, I was thinking the same, about a career outside of cricket. I was just wondering.
"I wasn't playing championship cricket and I was batting at number nine and not getting much of a knock in the one-day games.
"You think, 'What am I going to do?' but then you have a great two or three weeks and that changes and you are thinking, 'Can I get involved with the IPL or the Stanford game or play for England?'.
"Anytime is good to be hitting the ball well but, with the Stanford game, the IPL and the ICL, it is a particularly good time to be doing that."
Yorkshire skipper Darren Gough believes former Eagles team-mate Napier would find it difficult to make the step up from county cricket into the IPL with its host of big name stars.
He said: "Everyone knows I tried to sign Graham for Yorkshire last year. He re-signed for Essex. He is a terrific cricketer, he has got huge talent and to hit the ball like he does is tremendous.
"I don't know about the IPL. Listen, he is doing the business at county level, If he goes and does this at international level then great.
"But you can't take a player out of county cricket into one of the toughest leagues of all. If he gets into the England side and keeps doing performances like that then he has got a chance.
"But you've got to remember the boundaries at international level are 20 yards back from those at Chelmsford. Even though he hit some big sixes, they are short boundaries."